The second outing in Herman’s Blood of Gods and Royals series following Legacy of Kings (2015), continuing the tale of Alexander the Great and his compatriots as teens.
A cast of dozens, with eight narrative perspectives (six teens and two adults), full of reawakening magic, sex, and lots and lots of violence: it’s the formula behind George R.R. Martin’s bestselling A Song of Ice and Fire, and there’s no doubt it has appeal. Indeed, the present-tense narration and the short, sometimes-choppy sentences (“The two men guarding the doorway relax when they see him. ‘Good job,’ he says, clapping them on the back. He waves to his men on the other tower. Where’s Phrixos?”) on occasion make this sound like the chapter-book version of exactly that stripe of epic fantasy, although the lack of certain trappings like a map or list of important figures (many of them historical) leads to a needlessly confusing reading experience. Regardless, fans will love this volume: the stakes are higher, the romantic permutations continue unabated, and the impressive battle scene is lovingly rendered. It’s a strangely balanced romantic fantasy, both old-fashioned (misogyny; wicked, promiscuous queen) and forward-thinking (Alex seems to be asexual; Cynane owns her sexual desires and actions), and set in a time and place that guarantees multicultural exoticism.
This middle volume offers a rising plot and ever bigger baddies; anyone who makes it this far is definitely in for Volume 3. (author’s note; discussion guide) (Historical fantasy. 14 & up)